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LaChanze, Norm Lewis & Chuck Cooper Will Star in Cabin in the Sky

As we previously announced, New York City Center will kick off its 2016 Encores! Great American Musicals In Concert season with Cabin in the Sky. At that time, casting for the production hadn’t been announced. Recently, we found out that Broadway leading man Norm Lewis (Phantom of The Opera, The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess) will star in the musical. The show will also include Tony Award winners LaChanze (If/Then, The Color Purple OBC) and Chuck Cooper (Amazing Grace, Romeo & Juliet) and will  run Feb. 10-14, 2016.

Cabin in the Sky is an all-Black musical and his being billed as:

“Cabin in the Sky followed Porgy and Bess in celebrating African‐American music and dance traditions. The musical tells the story of ‘Little Joe’ Jackson, a charming ne’er‐do‐well who dies in a saloon brawl and is given six months on earth to prove his worth to the Lord’s General (Norm Lewis) and his long‐suffering wife Petunia (LaChanze), while resisting the temptations of the Devil’s Head Man (Chuck Cooper)”

Cabin in the Sky will also include J. Bernard Calloway, Marva Hicks, Carly Hughes, Forrest McClendon and J.D. Webster. Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago‐Hudson directs with choreography by Camille A. Brown.

The musical, written by Lynn Root, was originally produced on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre in 1940 with music by Vernon Duke, lyrics by John La Touche, and choreography by George Ballanchine to “celebrate African American achievement in music and dance.” The original cast included singer-actress Ethel Waters, famed dancer/choreographer Katherine Dunham, film/television actor Rex Ingram, and composer/singer J. Rosemond Johnson. The musical closed on March 8, 1941 after 156 performances.

Two years later, the musical hit the big screen during a time when Blacks rarely appeared in leading roles in film. According to “Beyond Racial Stereotypes: Subversive Subtexts in ‘Cabin in the Sky’” by Kate Marie Weber, as part of his New Deal, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration advocated for more Black actors in major roles as a way to create more jobs for Blacks in the film industry. Additionally, the NAACP met with Hollywood executives to demand better roles for Black actors and actresses. As a result, Cabin in the Sky,” starring Waters, Ingram, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, and Lena Horne, became one of the few films, at that time, produced by one of Hollywood’s major studios with an all-Black cast.

Encores! production of Cabin in the Sky runs Feb 10 – 14, 2016. Tickets for the performance can be purchased here.

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